Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Darwin B. Dahl (Director), Dr. Cathleen J. Webb, Dr. Lester Pesterfield

Degree Program

Department of Chemistry

Degree Type

Master of Science


A solid-liquid two phase partitioning system (TPPS) is a new technology platform for destroying toxic organic compounds. TPPS have traditionally been operated by using an immiscible organic phase which partitions organic compounds into the aqueous phase. TPPS using an immiscible organic phase suffers from several limitations such as the organic phase could be biodegradable and hence only certain compatible microbial strains could be used. This therefore, eliminates the desired use of mixed microbial populations for efficient degradation. A solid-liquid two phase partitioning system, in which solid polymeric beads replace liquid organic phase, appears to have benefits over the traditional liquid-liquid partitioning systems. The choice of suitable polymeric material should have similar absorption properties as the liquid organic solvent but have the added benefit of being able to be used with mixed microbial population. In this study, poly (ethylene-co-vinyl acetate), brand name ELVAX 40W, was selected as the test polymer in an effort to lower the concentrations of selected analytes; phenol, 4- nitrophenol and o-cresol in aqueous solutions. Studies were performed to determine the degree of partitioning using HPLC and UV-VIS. Kinetic studies were also performed and illustrated a first order dependence on the absorption of the phenols tested. Activation energies were also determined for each analyte. Rate constants were on the order of 10-4 min-1. Activation energy ranged from 19-46 kJ/mol.

Regeneration tests showed that a release of analyte from the polymer is possible when the beads are placed in water. Therefore the ability to reuse the polymer is possible and therefore cost efficient. The polymer was observed to lower high concentrations up to 2000 ppm suggesting its potential use to treat the high concentrations of toxic organic compounds.


Chemistry | Microbiology | Organic Chemistry | Polymer Chemistry